Task A Seven: Identifying Supporters

General Supporters

Individuals will begin to identify themselves as supporters, as you work through the Needs Assessment and Visioning task. Keep the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of these people in a file or computerized database.

Determine if you will have adequate volunteer help to carry out the effort. You will need your community's help to succeed. Ask for potential volunteers to sign up, as you meet with supportive groups. Have a sign-up sheet at the library and a sign asking for volunteers to help with the districting effort. A good number of volunteers is a sign of support in the community. If there are few people willing to sign up, there may be inadequate community support to proceed.

Ask potential volunteers for their name, address, email address, and telephone number. You should also ask if they have specific skills that would be useful in the districting effort. Such skills might include computer skills, writing, graphic arts, public speaking, or organizational skills. [Refer to Assessment Phase Form B: Volunteer Signup at the end of this section.

Opinion Leader Supporters

Seek opinion leader supporters, as well as general supporters. In general, community leaders who support other educational and governmental services will be most likely to support a districting effort. These people tend to look to the future of the community and are generally considered to be "progressive." Contact these people individually.

Opinion leader supporters will be drawn from the following groups:

Political leaders, such as city council members, county commissioners, school board members, and legislators;

Business leaders, such as the managers of the leading companies, heads of the chambers of commerce, bankers, and leading representatives from farm, mining, ranching, or timber industry associations;

Media leaders, such as newspaper editors, publishers, and the station managers of local radio and television stations;

Educational leaders, such as school superintendents, presidents of the local teachers' association; and prominent teachers;

Social leaders, such as church leaders and the heads of important community groups and service organizations. Other social leaders may not hold any official position in the community, but are generally seen as a powerful force in community life.

The spouses of these leaders may also become important opinion leader supporters in a districting effort.

Begin searching for opinion leader supporters by listing all of the important opinion leaders in your community by name. After your group has created this list, make an initial assessment of whether or not each person is likely to support the project, oppose the project or will be neutral. [Refer to Assessment Phase Form C: Opinion Leaders at the end of this section.]

Contact those who you think are likely to be supportive, and then those who you feel will be neutral. Do this individually and by appointment. Explain what you are considering and ask the person whether they would be likely to support such an effort. Assure them that their comments will be kept confidential, if that seems necessary. Take notes at the meeting, if they are comfortable with the idea.

Compare notes after the meeting. If the person did not want you to take notes, write down your impressions of the meeting as soon as possible. Make an assessment of the person's support level:

Very Supportive: will speak for the effort and actively work for it.

Supportive: will speak for the effort, but not work for it.

Neutral: will not speak for or against the effort.

Opposed: will speak against the effort.

Very Opposed: will speak against the effort and actively work against it.

Good support from your community's opinion leaders should encourage you to continue with the effort.